Using Third Party Services as a Control Tactic

Third party services are often used by one parent to dictate and control the other parent. Unilateral decisions may result in various commitments and schedules for the child that may interfere with the other parent’s time. Frustration may arise over the costs associated with the third party services. A parent may retaliate and refuse to administer medication, bring the child to counselling sessions, doctors appointments or to participation in extracurricular activities. The parent may refuse these things because the decision was made solely by the other parent.

  • Case study #1: The child is diagnosed with ADHD and is prescribed a stimulant medication. The child is not given the medication while in the other parents care because the other parent disagrees with the diagnosis or the prescribed treatment.

  • Case study #2: The child is enrolled in a dance class and has practices every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The child is only able to attend classes that land during one parent’s time. The other parent is upset regarding the enrolment and refuses to accommodate the child’s participation. 

In the above scenarios, the parents failed to consider the thoughts and feelings of the child. The child was not given a voice even though the decisions directly effect the child. The child may have wanted to take their medication instead of experiencing withdrawal symptoms then being forced to readjust to the medication in the other parent’s care. The child may want to attend all of the dance practices instead of struggling to keep up with the rest of the group. The child’s preferences were completely overlooked because the parents were more focused on their dispute with the other parent.

If you are in a similar situation, we encourage you to give your child a voice. It is rarely a good idea to fight unilateral decision-making by making your own unilateral decisions. If you disagree with a child’s diagnosis, medication, or other third party service providers, ask other professionals for advice.

  • Speak with the child’s doctors regarding the diagnosis and the risks and benefits of the medications. If you are unsatisfied with the outcome of the conversation, consult another doctor for a second opinion.

  • If you are concerned your child is at risk of burnout from participating in so many extracurricular activities, consult with a trained professional for guidance to help prevent your child from over-doing it.

  • Speak with your child’s teachers to determine if their grades, behaviour or attendance have declined since the child started the activities.

  • Speak with the child’s service providers regarding the importance of attending appointments or practices. You can also ask if there are other steps you could take to stop the child from falling behind. 

  • If costs or transportation are an issue, learn about other options available to assist such as subsidizes or carpooling opportunities. 

  • If your quality time is being interrupted by scheduled obligations, request to spend additional time with the child when the child when the child is not scheduled for appointments or activities.

Take all of the necessary steps to make an informed child-orientated decision. Armed with the relevant information to support your position, seek assistance to get the relief you are seeking without using your child as a tool to get your way. Our team can refer you to experienced lawyers and other professionals to help you learn your options and achieve your goals.